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Baby photos are so special.  That is why making sure they last for many years so come is so important.  Your great-great-great grandchild will one day be able to look back and see what you or your child looked like when you were small.  Where should you begin when preserving your baby photos?

Start with all of your photos taken on film.  If you still have the negatives from those photos, scan them in.  This will give you a higher quality photo than if you scan in the prints.  If you don’t have the negatives any longer, make sure you get a high resolution copy from your prints, especially if you only have one or two copies of your baby photos in existence.

How do you scan your negatives or prints?  You can either take them to a photo store and have them professionally scanned, or if you have enough photos to justify the expense, consider buying a photo scanner yourself.  No one can take care of your photos like you can.  You can purchase an inexpensive scanner that can still get the job done right.  The scanner I purchased cost around $150.  As technology advances, however, prices will continue to go down.  You want to make sure to not go too cheap on your scanner.  The cheaper you buy, the lower the quality will be.

Why is it important to get a high quality scan from your photo?  If you’re going to scan your photos, you might as well scan them right the first time, taking into consideration anything you may want to do with them in the future.  This not only prevents you from having to do the job over again, but it also allows you to have a peace of mind that even if there was a fire in your house and all of your photos were destroyed, you’d still have a backup copy.

What kind of things could I do with my digitized photos?  If you scan your photos at a high resolution, you could blow up a photo for a special party and still have it look nice and not fuzzy.  You or one of your family could publish a book where it would be important to use good quality photos that you’ve scanned. You might want to make a slideshow of someone’s life story or post your photos online. You could make a collage of your photos or put your photo on a card or invitation that you make. There are so many things you can do with photos and you never know what the future holds. If you can, you’ll want to scan your photo at a high resolution.

What does it mean to scan at a high resolution?  Resolution is the number of pixels in an image.  It is measured in dpi (dots, or pixels, per inch).  The more pixels there are the higher the resolution.  The higher the resolution, the better quality the image.  I scan my photos at either 2400dpi or 3200dpi so that when I change the dpi after they are scanned to 300 dpi the size of the photo is about 8x12 inches.  The higher the dpi you scan at, the larger the file size is, so I try to keep it around 2400, sometimes more if I know I want to blow up the photo later.

What should you save your photo as?  I save my scanned images as tiffs.  Tiffs do make the file size bigger, but it is a more reliable setting.  Also, to keep track of which photo is which you may want to come up with a numbering system.  When I’m scanning negatives I number each roll and number the photo the number on the negative.  For example, if I’m on roll number 132 and the number above the negative photo is 4, I’ll name the file 132-04.tiff.  Then, when you want to find a specific photo you can look at the negatives and know immediately what it’s called.  For prints I either come up with a name and a number such as BabyFred-04.tiff, or I’ll name the print the same thing as is written on the back of the photo or I’ll put a small description for it, i.e. familyportrait1998.tiff.  Come up with a system that works for you and stay with it.

Once you get all of your photos digitized you want to touch them up, getting rid of dust, scratches, fading, color problems, etc.  You can do this in Adobe Photoshop or some other computer photo editing program.  When you start out, expect a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to fix up your photos very quickly.  You’ll also want to adjust the size of your photo in the photo editing program and get it ready for storage.  For more information on touching up your photos using photoshop, go to photoheritage.net

The next step is to make a backup copy of your photos.  You want to have about three different places that your photos are so that if you of your forms of backup gets destroyed, your still have a copy of your photo.  A few of the backup options are saving your photos to an external hard drive, burning your photos to a DVD or CD, uploading your photos to the Internet, and having a printed copy of your photo. Yyour negative strip is also a form of backup.  If you do burn a DVD or CD, consider burning a few copies and giving a copy to different family members so that if your house is damaged or destroyed, you’ll be able to get your photos back because you had a back up copy in another place.  DVDs and CDs have a lifespan of five to 10 years so you will want to put the date you burned the DVD/CD right on the DVD/CD so that you’ll know when you need to burn another copy.

Now that your photos are touched up and backed up, it’s time to organize them.  Coming up with a system to organize all of your photos that you scanned as well as the photos you took on a digital camera, is a tough task.  For more tips on this subject click here.

Baby photos are so precious.  Making sure you preserve them and have them in an organized form will give you a peace of mind and help you enjoy life a little more.


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Baby Quotes
"In the eyes of a child...there is joy, there is laughter... there is hope, there is trust, a chance to shape the future..."
-- Air Supply